The Marana, Arizona, police officer who sent an armed suspect flying with his patrol car is speaking out for the first time, saying he did what he had to do, CBS News' Carter Evans reports.
Michael Rapiejko's split-second decision to run down an armed suspect even caught fellow officers by surprise.
"I have two thoughts in my mind: I need to shoot him to stop the threat or I need to run him over to stop the threat," Rapiejko said.
In an interview with investigators after the Feb. 19 incident, Rapiejko explained why he plowed his patrol car into the suspect.
"He's not listened to commands, he's fired off rounds. And this is going bad quickly," he said.
The suspect, 36-year-old Mario Valencia, was believed to be suicidal and armed with a loaded rifle. He's accused of stealing from a nearby Walmart. Investigators say he had also committed armed robbery and arson earlier the same day.
When police caught up with him, Valencia fired into the air then headed toward homes and businesses.
Rapiejko said he realized he had a small window of opportunity and limited options to stop Valencia.
"I was not comfortable taking a 50-yard shot with a handgun. The only other option I had to stop the threat at that point is to run him over," he said.
Valencia was not seriously injured and is facing more than a dozen charges. His lawyer said the officer's actions were excessive, but Rapiejko was cleared of any wrongdoing.
"There was no other way to stop that threat at that moment," Rapiejko said.
Rapiejko was accused in 2005 of using excessive force in a case that was later settled.